Centenary Of Indian Cinema

Filmmaker Ardeshir Irani Made ‘Kisan Kanya’ – India’s First Color Film

Filmmaker Ardeshir Irani was an ambitious and creative filmmaker. His successful experiment by making India’s First Talkie Film Alam Ara justifies his passion for innovations. Hence after the huge success of Alam Ara, Ardeshir Irani decided to take a huge leap and make a color film. In 1930s Hollywood had started color films production thanks to the first mono pack color film stocks available in Hollywood. Hence Ardeshir Irani was eager to make a color film in India and despite expense and hurdles, Irani made India’s first color film Kisan Kanya (1937).

It may be noted that before Ardeshir Irani‘s Kisan Kanya, Marathi film legend V Shantaram had produced a Marathi film Sairandhri (1933) which was partially in color. The film was shot in Black and White but on an experiment basis Shantaram filmed few important scenes in color. The color prints were processed and printed in Germany. The film was an average hit. Since the cost of production was too expensive hence none of the filmmakers attempted to make a color film during the 30’s.

Nevertheless, Ardeshir Irani wanted to write history hence he took the challenge and made Kisan Kanya, which is regarded as India’s first indigenously color film. The film was released in 1937. Unlike mythological tales, the film had a hard-hitting subject of a farmer’s exploitation by the hands of the landlord. The film was based on noted novelist Saadat Hasan Manto’s novel. The film depicted how a farmer forced by the atrocities of a landlord takes law in his hand. The same subject was later adapted by Mehboob Khan in his cult classic film Mother India (1957).

The film Kisan Kanya was a path-breaking movie for its novel subject, innovation in film technology and taking up films as a means to take up social subjects. The film was directed by Moti B Gidwani and had top stars of the silent era like Padmadevi, Jilloo, Ghulam Mohammed, Nissar, Syed Ahmed, and Ghani.

Irani made Kisan Kanya on the Cinecolor film stocks (Koda chrome) whose rights he had bought from America. Surprisingly, despite being the color film the film did not do huge business hence the idea of the color films failed in India. Besides increasing the film budget, color films had several problems. The most niggling problem was the development of the negative and secondly acquiring the rights of American Cinecolor stock!!

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